Victoria’s newest public holiday, AFL Grand Final eve, looks like it’s here to stay despite differing opinions over its necessity. With Grand Final Friday now in its fourth year, plenty of events and activities have emerged on the Thursday to help Victorians ease into the long weekend. Here’s our guide to some of the best ways to kick off your Grand Final weekend, regardless of whether you follow the footy!
For the footy-mad
Die-hard fans would be crazy not to get down to Yarra Park at the MCG to soak up finals fever at the AFL Footy Festival. Open from 9.00am to 6.00pm each day from Wednesday to Saturday in the week leading up, there’s something on offer for everyone – whether that be food trucks, the kids’ zone, competitions, interviews or player appearances.
For the party animals
If you’d like to celebrate the shorter working week, why not do so in style at one of the many Grand Final Friday eve parties happening across the city? The Common Man at South Wharf kicks off celebrations from 1.00pm on Thursday 27 September, featuring music, fire pits and a BBQ. Head from work to Fargo + Co’s Grand Final Public Holiday Eve party, which will provide drink deals and a DJ set well into the night. The Furphy Footy Fest at The Auburn Hotel in Hawthorn East begins on Thursday night, so get in early to sample their happy hour deals. The best part? These parties continue all weekend, so you can come back to celebrate your team’s win (or commiserate their loss) after the big dance!
The Common Man: DFO South Wharf, 39 Dukes Walk, South Wharf VIC 3006
Fargo + Co: 216 Swan Street, Richmond VIC 3121
The Auburn Hotel: 85 Auburn Road, Hawthorn East VIC 3122
For the family
Running until 7 October, the Royal Melbourne Show is an iconic feature of every September in Melbourne. A number of family-friendly events will be on offer into the early hours of the evening, culminating in the daily fireworks display at 7.45pm. Latecomers will enjoy the live music and food pavilion, which finish at 8.30pm and 9.00pm respectively.
For the non-footy fans
Use the Grand Final long weekend as an excuse to indulge in some late-night retail therapy at one of Melbourne’s major shopping centres. Many are open until 9pm on Thursday, giving keen purchasers plenty of time to shop-til-they-drop after work. The Arts Centre and ACMI have a range of shows and performances on offer for creative types, while theatre-goers could head down to the Princess Theatre to catch Mamma Mia the Musical before it leaves town on 30 September.